If you have been around here for a while, you know that green beans are pretty much my favorite vegetable and I have shared a whole bunch of recipes for green beans over the years. So today, I wanted to share with you my ultimate guide for How To Cook Green Beans, even without a recipe! I have cooking times for each method, and what temperature to use. I’ll share some of my favorite green bean recipes too. So scroll down to get all the details, from roasting to frying and everything in between.
Selecting & Preparing Green Beans
Green Beans (also called string beans) are usually sold either loose in a large bin where each customer selects their own or in plastic bags (similar to grapes.) They are sold by the pound. When selecting your green beans, take a moment to choose those that are unwrinkled, and whose pointy tips have not wilted or broken off. Make sure they are free from brown spots or signs of rot.
Trimmed and washed (ready to cook) green beans can often be found in sealed plastic bags with the other prepared raw vegetables in the produce section of large supermarkets. These have had their stems removed and are already clean, so they can be cooked straight from the bag.
Yellow wax beans are in season in the summertime and can often be found either mixed with or alongside the green beans in supermarkets and farmer’s markets. They can be prepared and cooked in the same way that green beans are.
Haricot Verts (also known as French Green Beans) are a prized and gourmet variety of green beans that are harvested while they are still tender and small. These are usually sold pre-packaged in plastic bags.
Preparing Green Beans
Green beans have a stem end with a hard and pithy end (above at left) and a pointy end that is edible. It is only necessary to remove the stem end. In some cases, the pointy end will show signs of wilt or will look wrinkled. In this case, I recommend removing the pointy end too.
You can do so by lining handfuls of green beans up with all the stems facing the same direction.
Square them up with the edge of your chef’s knife and then chop through the green beans, removing the stem ends all at once. (See above photo.)
How To Sauté Green Beans
Sautéeing Green Beans is so simple because there is only one skillet needed.
- You will want to cook them in hot oil for about 5 to 7 minutes to let them blister in spots.
- Then, to ensure that they are evenly tender, steam them with two tablespoons of water (with the lid on) for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.
I have all the tips and tricks on how to cook them in a frying pan in my recipe for Simple Skillet Green Beans.
How To Steam Green Beans
Steaming green beans is a totally basic method!
- To do so, bring an inch of water to a boil in a saucepan fitted with a steamer basket.
- Add trimmed green beans, cover and steam for 4 minutes, or until crisp tender.
This is how I cook green beans quite often because it is healthy and so fast. You can see how I do that in this recipe for Green Beans with Walnuts and Balsamic. If you want to kick things up about 11 notches, you can try my Asian Green Beans.
How to Boil Or Blanch Green Beans
If you’re hoping to make fresh green beans ahead of time, and you don’t want to make a casserole, then blanching them in boiling water and then shocking them in an ice-water bath is the best way to cook them. For example, in this recipe here for Orange Ginger Green Beans, you then will reheat them in a skillet. This is also a great way to prepare green beans for freezing.
- To blanch them bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add trimmed green beans and cook for 2 minutes until bright green.
- Immediately transfer them to a bowl of ice water with a slotted spoon, spider or tongs to prevent them from continuing to cook.
How To Roast Green Beans
- To roast green beans, toss 1 1/4 pound trimmed green beans with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper.
- Spread out on a large rimmed baking sheet.
- Roast at 425 degrees F, stirring once or twice, until the green beans are browned in spots and tender, about 15 minutes.
You can see complete instructions on how to roast green beans here in my Roasted Green Beans with Almonds and Thyme recipe.
How To Cook Frozen Green Beans
My favorite way to use frozen green beans is to add them to soups. They can be stirred into the soup in the last minute or so of cooking time. They are great in Minestrone, Chicken and Wild Rice Soup and Soupe Au Pistou.
To make them into a simple side dish follow these instructions.
- Place frozen green beans in a colander and run cool tap water over them, stirring them to make sure they are thawing evenly. This takes about 2 minutes. Once they are thawed, spread them out on a clean dish towel and pat them dry with a paper towel.
- Heat 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil or avocado oil (high heat oil) in a large skillet (preferably cast iron) over high heat. When oil is just starting to smoke, add the green beans. Careful as they may splatter. Add a splatter or grease screen on top of the skillet if you have one. Cook, undisturbed until the bottom of the green beans are starting to brown, about 2 miuntes.
- Turn the green beans over with tongs, several at a time, to sear again for another 2 minutes.
- Add 1 tablespoon chopped garlic, and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Cook stirring constantly, to brown the garlic and make sure the green beans are evenly cooked, about 1 minute longer.
- Immediately transfer to a serving platter. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar or lemon juice or sprinkle with fresh herbs if desired.
How To Deep Fry Green Beans
- Prepare your favorite batter, such as tempura batter. Batter 1 generous handful of green beans at a time in the batter and allow excess to drip off.
- Heat a deep saucepan with at least 1 inch of cooking oil until 350-365 degrees F. One by one, transfer to the hot oil with tongs. Fry until they are golden brown and float to the top, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and immediately sprinkle with salt.
- Whisk 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons fat-free Greek yogurt, 1 ½ tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, and 2 teaspoons sriracha sauce in a small bowl. Serve the fried green beans with the dipping sauce.
How To Grill Green Beans
- Heat grill to high heat with a vegetable grilling basket on top. Toss 1 1/4 pound trimmed green beans with 1 tablespoon oil and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper in a large bowl.
- Spread the green beans on the vegetable grilling basket, and grill until the green beans are blistered in places, about 3 minutes. Turn with tongs and allow to continue cooking until the green beans are just tender, 2 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer to a serving platter and serve hot.
Expert Tips and FAQs about Cooking Green Beans
As a general rule, you can cook them from raw to crisp tender in about 4 minutes. This is especially true in steaming and boiling. That said, there are several ways to cook green beans and cooking times will vary depending. Frying is faster and grilling or roasting is slower. Note: while you can use the same cooking technique to cook haricot vert (or French green beans) as you would regular green beans, they cook more quickly so adjust cooking times down when following recipes for regular green beans.
It is likely that your green beans are slightly overcooked. They taste quite sweet and mild when still crisp-tender, but they become mushy and metallic when overcooked.
When green beans are overcooked, they go from vibrant green to drab olive or army green. This is due to overcooking causing the cellular structure to break down and release the naturally occurring acids in the green beans. These acids then interact with the chlorophyll to break it down. Adding lemon or another acidic element to cooked green beans (even those that are not overcooked) will turn them drab and less vibrant.
No. It is important to blanch green beans before you freeze them to stop any cellular degradation or breakdown. Follow detailed instructions below how to blanch and freeze green beans at home.
How To Blanch and Freeze Green Beans
If you have a surplus of green beans, a great way to preserve them is to freeze them.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add green beans and cook until bright green, about 2 minutes.
- Drain and immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water to shock them.
- Spread out on a baking sheet and transfer the baking sheet to the freezer.
- When the green beans are frozen, transfer them to a re-sealable bag. Pess out as much air as possible, and freeze up to three months.
If you still want more See All Green Bean Recipes!